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Purchasing round for RM software program? Technical questions that you must ask – Half 1

10When evaluating an RM software solution, it is important to look beyond the features and benefits to understand the technical aspects of the solution. If a solution doesn't work from a technical point of view – then it just doesn't work!

In the first part of a two-part blog post, we're going to share some of the key technical questions to consider when evaluating a potential RM software solution.

Why are the technical details important?

Without a clear understanding of the technology involved, organizations run the risk of serious problems during the implementation phase or during subsequent use.

Most records management professionals do not have extensive IT knowledge. It is therefore natural that we do not deal with these technical aspects immediately.

The earlier we go, however, the better you get into the technical "nuts and bolts".

By asking technical questions early in the process, you can identify potential incompatibilities, gaps, and other challenges that could affect the delivery of your solution. When you share these technical details with your IT team, you can work together to make the best choice.

Questions to Ask

Our recommended technical questions cover a variety of solution details from the vendor, even on the equipment required to operate the solution.

While not a final list, these questions should help determine the information you need to help you make the correct choice. Every reputable provider should have the answers available.

  1. Manufacturer Background
    One of the best ways to determine the technical reliability of a solution is to find out more about the vendor and their customers. How long will the software be available in stores? How many customers are using the software? For how long? Are there long-term customers you can talk to about their experience? Answering these questions provides important indications of the overall reliability and effectiveness of the solution.
  1. Updates
    Updates are an integral part of the process by which software remains relevant, valuable, and secure. However, not all providers deal with updates in the same way. Questions to consider here include: How are updates applied? Are they automatic or do they require a manual installation process? How long do free updates take?
  1. Administration
    All business software requires administration. It can be as simple as adding or removing users, or more complex tasks like mapping workflows or setting up custom reports. It is important to find out how system administration is done. How much can you do yourself How much might costly support require from the provider? If some of the administration can be done in-house, learn about the training and support available to your administrators.
  1. User Training and Support
    The quality and availability of training and support resources is a critical factor in the success of your solution. Ask your prospect about the training programs and help documentation that are available to end users. Training services are not always included in software fees. So ask about additional training costs. The same applies to technical support. Be sure to ask about service standards for technical support, including availability, response times, and resolution times.
  1. Compatibility
    This is definitely one that needs to be addressed early in the process. Every time you introduce new software into your IT environment and run it along with your existing software tools, you need to be absolutely certain that they are working together. Make sure that you inform your provider of compatibility issues about all hardware, software, and network resources. It's important to be as specific as possible here. As an example of why this is important: The provider can claim that the RM software is compatible with your ERP system, but may only be compatible with certain versions.

In next week's blog post we will cover other technical issues, including backup, security, disaster recovery, and the various hardware requirements. Stay tuned!

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